Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Business

Book Swap in Carrollwood unites readers

CARROLLWOOD — One book store belongs to a major retailer with locations from coast to coast.

The other is an independent boutique representing a dream that came true for a lifelong Tampa woman.

Somehow Book Swap owner Cynthia Floyd has carved out a successful existence within 100 yards of book giant Barnes & Noble at Carrollwood's Main Street Plaza.

Floyd worked for the Hillsborough County Water Department as a business analyst when she entertained the idea of starting her own bookstore.

"I have thought about owning a bookstore since my early 20s, but it wasn't until about 10 years ago that I decided to pursue it," said Floyd, 54. "I gave myself one year and $2,000 to research it, and during that time I found out that the Book Swap was for sale and decided to purchase it rather than start a new business."

Eight years and one relocation later, Floyd continues to welcome readers in the plaza at 11738 N Dale Mabry Highway after moving from her previous spot a mile north at the Village Plaza.

"Reading has always been my passion," she says. "I can still remember going to the North Tampa Library on a field trip from Carrollwood Elementary and getting my first library card. The awe I felt when I got my first card was overwhelming.

"I felt like a door was opened to me that has never closed."

The front door at Book Swap opens frequently as customers stream in and out. A mix of new books and old is at the crux of how Book Swap does it business. People come in with bags and boxes full of books, which can be traded in for store credit and used to purchase either used or new books.

Floyd admits to having a few bad months but also noted she's benefited from the improved visibility of her current location. The growth in foot traffic at Book Swap also reflects a larger trend.

According to a report from the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales decreased by 10 percent in the first five months of 2015, and now represent just 20 percent of the book market — the same figure as a few years ago. Meanwhile, the American Booksellers Association had 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations last year, a solid increase from 1,410 stores in 1,660 locations five years earlier.

"The fact that the digital side of the business has leveled off has worked to our advantage," American Booksellers chief executive Oren Teicher told the New York Times. "It's resulted in a far healthier independent bookstore market today than we have had in a long time."

At Book Swap, customers say Floyd's personal touch also helps.

"I love the atmosphere of Book Swap," said Debra Wear, a Gaither High assistant teacher who has shopped at Book Swap since 2009. "Cynthia is wonderful. She goes out of her way to satisfy customers and can find any book I am looking for."

Wear enjoys a variety of genres and especially loves the work of novelist John Grisham, but legal thrillers aren't the only things that keep luring her back.

She stops in Thursday evenings at 6:30, when Book Swap holds coloring book night. Wear, along with her daughter Maryleigh and several others, enjoys getting together to chat, share refreshments, and indulge in the artistic outlet of adult coloring books.

"I love this coloring book thing," says Cheryl Malette, a retiree from Colchester, Vermont. "The group has everyone from 14-year-old girls to middle-aged women to older ladies. It's a great way to spend an hour and a half."

Malette, who visits Book Swap two to three times a week, says Floyd can look up virtually any book, old or new, and order it for her.

"I use Google all the time trying to find certain books and can't find them anywhere," Malette said. "But somehow Cynth pulls them up on her computer — I can't find them the way she does.

"It's just a wonderful place," Malette added.

Contact Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez at [email protected]

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